I was in a contemporary art museum once. As I was walking around I saw a freestanding white pedestal with a few food items on it. I looked closer and saw that there was a taco… a real taco with shellac spray on it. This was bending my mind about how I had been categorizing art. Was this art? Was this just food picked up from a restaurant around the corner?
As I stood quietly and processed these questions, someone bumped in to the pedestal and the taco fell on the floor. I was shocked and didn’t know what to do. I just saw this broken taco on the ground with a bunch of rice around it. There was a scurry amongst the museum people. I saw a small broom with a pan coming. I was in awe as this piece of art was swept into a dust pan and then horrified as I realized the rice scattered on the floor wasn’t rice, it was actually live maggots.
My view of art changed that day. My artist mind has never been the same and just seeing maggots in general can give you nightmares, so it was a memorable day.
My Definition of Art
For most of my life art basically meant paint on a canvas, sculpture, and all the traditional stuff in a museum. I never thought too much about it, I just knew I liked it. I liked looking at it and creating it. It made me feel something inside and it added joy and boldness to my life.
From what I’ve gathered over the years, art is something created that moves your emotions.
It moves us through beauty or an idea. Sometimes it’s just visually attractive, sometimes it makes us think. It’s a representation of something meaningful. It can be a visual object that connects us to a bigger idea, a feeling we’ve felt before, an experience we know.
Art can be a freestyle or a discipline. Some art is free and creative, making anything that pleases you. Some art requires following rules. Like the rules of light, shadow, shape and perspective. Other art can even be your interpretation of the rules-, which is a mix between freedom and rules-.
Art can be made or found. When I’m creating art I curate it and I’m aware of it developing. I guide it and hone it till it is exactly the way I want it to be. I choose each the parts and what I use to make it. Color and shape are considered. Found art is a little different, it exists solely based on if I have eyes for it or not. It’s not necessarily intentionally made, but it is noticed. Like noticing the way someone’s shadow falls on the wall or perfect little muddy footprints on the sidewalk.
Art can represent reality or a metaphor. Art can look like reality, like drawing from life. A painting of a leaf that looks like a leaf. Or it can be a symbol for something else. Painting a set of wings that reminds you of a verse you read.
Art is a craft. Something you get increasingly good at over time. Like the more you practice drawing the human form, the more it looks the way you intend it to and at a quicker pace.
For years, I defined art as something I could paint. When I got married and our home and kids began to need the bulk of my attention, using paint was not possible. What I knew art to be began to disappear, but I’ve begun to learn that the concepts I used to apply to my traditional art could be applied to anything I do. My craft at home.
Art can exist in as many places as there are colors in the spectrum. Written word, dance, music, photography, wood working, conversation and cooking are only some of the many places where art resides.
I aspire to be a bread artist, an iPhone photo artist, an artist of the written word, an artist of my morning coffee, an artist of praying for others. I want to be an artist of creating spaces of peace in my home, of making my kids feel loved even when they’re driving me crazy. An artist of knowing when to clean or let the rooms of my home be messy in order to spend time with the kids. An artist of the things I place on my dining room table and the way I arrange flowers and set them in the sun. An artist of my daughters’ hair. I want to be an artist that notices beauty.
My home may look nothing like a taco on a white block, but I consider it art.